Interview with Reuben Wu
Q: Hi Reuben, welcome to Pellicola! Tell us something about your life and add something that Wikipedia doesn't say.
Hi, I could add that it was a strange path leading up to this point in my life, starting out as an industrial designer doing part-time music, then going into full-time music and starting out as a hobbyist photographer, then finally metamorphosing into the full-time visual artist that I am today. I definitely feel a lot more aligned with myself now than ever before.
Q: Photographer, director, music producer and member of Ladytron, looks like a pretty busy life, how can you blend all together?
My band have a new album coming out in the coming months, so I’ve been working on that this year, but we all took a break in 2012 and I’ve been spending most of my time concentrating on visual arts. Visuals and music complement each other in many ways so it’s not a difficult combination of activities. I see it as my solo project, after the very collaborative nature of being in a band.
Q: Tell us how you discovered photography. Do you remember when and why did you start taking pictures?
I took up photography as a creative outlet during my travels with the band, mainly as a documentation of where we performed, but as time went on, it because more of a dedicated activity, and I often booked extra time around touring to satisfy my need to explore and make pictures. I was also intrigued by old camera equipment, like the Leica M3, Mamiya C330, and my enjoyment of photography was partly derived from using and experimenting with these obsolete cameras and imaging techniques.
Q: Music and photography, which one influences most the other?
I’d say neither, as both mediums are simply expressions of the same thing, and need to be aligned to a creative vision.
Q: Your photographic project "Lux Noctis" is amazing and the use of the drone is brilliant, how did it come up?
It developed through a combination of childhood fantasy and some experimentation for night time shoots. I had been exploring projections at night while capturing drone footage and it was just a logical step. My equipment for doing this has always changed but the principle and technique stay the same.
Q: How do you find these remote places you shoot at?
A lot of research goes into finding locations. Everything from the accessibility to the geomorphology of the place is looked into, as well as making sure it is safe and remote enough to use a drone to light the land. I try to stay away from popular places or where there are lots of humans, as it’s important that I’m alone while I’m creating these images.
Q: You let us dream with those amazing landscapes and their electric vibes, but what is your primary aim when you take pictures?
I’m trying to capture the essence of exploration, something which is very personal, and nothing to do with climbing Mount Everest. These days, so much is photographed and documented, I want to capture something about a place which brings back this element of discovery.
Q: Which one was the most challenging photographic project or the one you are most fond of?
I recently traveled to a high altitude glacier in Peru to photograph its landscape at night. At 16,000ft and in subzero temperatures everything becomes really difficult; even walking and talking is a challenge, but the photographs I made from the trip are worth the effort.
Q: You use(d) to shoot with a Mamiya RZ67, a Polaroid sx70, a Holga, why shooting film in a so fast digital world?
I had no interest in digital photography at that time. I was far more interested in creating work which required the operation of antique equipment, shooting to negative or Polaroid film and having to create your image from those basic physical and chemical methods. Digital processes were used to process those mediums, so I saw my workflow as a kind of hybrid of old and new.
Q: What keeps you inspired?
My imagination, travel, the beauty of the planet.
Q: Is there any photographer of the present or the past that you love?
Yes there are many, but I think the artists who truly influence my work are painters and land artists. Frederic Edwin Church, Turner, Robert Smithson.
Q: What kind of music Reuben listens to?
I mainly like dark melancholic music :) Music that is good to drive at night to.
Q: Reuben, thank you for this opportunity! Last question, do you have any upcoming projects?
I’m working on an evolution of my Lux Noctis project called ‘Aeroglyphs’ where I focus on the specific light path rather than the illuminated landscape below. It’s a new ongoing project, running in parallel with Lux Noctis.
I also have my new monograph of the “Lux Noctis” series launching in late Sept/early Oct. It’s available for preorder here
All images © Reuben Wu